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Renewed calls for regional economic integration

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


 

Last month saw renewed calls for Central American regional integration, a theme which periodically surges and – despite the economic logic behind it – subsides.

“A country that measures 22,000 square kilometers and has six million inhabitants is simply not interesting as a market,” said Roberto Kriete on a visit to Nicaragua.

The isthmus need to be an entity with the same norms and regulations, added the Chairman of El Salvador-based Avianca-Taca Airlines, since 2009 a division of Avianca Holdings.

In the 1990s, Kriete merged the flag carriers of Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua with Taca.

Kriete’s point was echoed by a senior official of the State Department of the United States, Francisco Palmieri, during a trip to the region.

“This is the 21st century and Central America has to unite as a market,” Palmieri said.

“It’s not a question of one country competing with another - the region needs to know that its competition is coming from Asia, South America, Europe and Africa.”

With different rules in each of six countries governing every sector, Central America is an expensive place in which to do business.

At the same time, few politicians and bureaucrats have historically shown interest in economic integration, which could improve living conditions for many Central Americans, but which could also eliminate public-sector jobs, which become redundant.